Redding Reddens

Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean

Redding saw a lot more red in late August than its residents wanted to see. The red was from the Carr Fire which burned 229,651 acres to the west and northeast of Redding, before it was contained. The fire devastated neighborhoods in the city’s northest corner and was the sixth-most destructive in California history.

So, it’s reassuring to see that a more welcomed type of red returning to Redding … fall color.

Redding is a central location from which to explore the Shasta Cascade (the northeast corner of UpStateCA). From Redding, roads spoke out to prime fall color viewing at Lassen Volcanic National Park, Plumas County, McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and Hat Creek, Coffee Creek and Scott Valley, Mt Shasta, Chester, Lake Almanor and Susanville, Weaverville, Red Bluff and Chico. Much of these areas are either now peaking or approaching peak.

Within its city limits, Redding is bisected by the Sacramento River which has beautiful riparian forests and wetlands. Across the length of California’s northernmost metropolis, Frémont cottonwood, black oak, Oregon ash California buckeye and blue oak grow beside the Sacramento River.

One of the best places to begin a Redding Fall Color adventure is at Sundial Bridge, Santiago Calatrava’s architectural masterpiece that spans the mighty Sacramento River, connecting Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens.

Many of Redding’s neighborhoods are forested with colorful exotic trees and several have breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and the Sacramento River. Redding color spotter Laura Jean sends these pictures of the welcomed color that has reddened Redding’s boulevards.

More about Redding and its nine fall color driving tours is found at 

  • Redding – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Chinese pistache, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean

About Time For Lassen Volcanic

Hat Creek and Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

Manzanita Lake and Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

Color spotter Phillip Reedy admitted he hadn’t visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in a while and “it was about time.”

He admitted, “While it can’t compare to the Eastern Sierra, there were still some colors to be seen, plenty of golden grass and even a few aspens here and there.

“The best thing was how few people there were.  No jockeying for a spot to set up a tripod there.” 

Lassen Volcanic National Park (8,512′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

The hike to Kings Creek Falls in Lassen Volcanic National Park begins with lacy meadow grasses that grow throughout Kings Creek Meadow, then it rises through a textural blend of yellow Lemmons willow and a mix of hot pink and scarlet shrubs, to the wispy white falls that are embraced by Tolkienesque-like willow.

If ever there is a middle kingdom in California, it is Lassen Volcanic at this magical time of year.

Shanda Ochs hiked there this week and suggested that there are so many unusual and vibrant plants to see along the trail that one might want to carry a pocket field guide to identify them.

One of the difficulties of identifying plants in the Shasta Cascade is that field guides written for the Sierra Nevada or other parts of Northern California don’t often work.

That’s because the volcanic soil, deep snowfall, climate and other conditions have encouraged the evolution of different native plants than are found in the Klamath range, Sierra Nevada, or nearby Sacramento Valley.

Part of the joy of hiking at Lassen Volcanic and on Mt. Shasta, is that you’re always finding something unexpected and new.

For a guide to the Kings Creek Falls Trail, CLICK HERE.

At Manzanita Lake at the northwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic NP, Shanda said the willow that ring the lake, are “about done, with alder still in change. The cottonwood is also about 75% with some almost bare, to others about half changed.”

It’s always difficult to rate an area when some species have peaked, others are peaking and still others near peak, but we’ll classify it at peak, as it isn’t going backwards. 

Kings Creek Falls (7,300′), Lassen Volcanic National Park – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake (2,900′), Lassen Volcanic National Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/10/18) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/10/18) Shanda Ochs


Airbrushed with Crimson

Davis Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/4/18) Shanda Ochs

Davis Knotweed, Lassen Peak Trail (10/4/18) Shanda Ochs

It almost appears as if the trailhead to Lassen Peak was airbrushed with crimson in this photograph by Shanda Ochs, taken yesterday afternoon.

The color, in fact, comes from Davis Knotweed (Aconogonon davisiae). There are 27 varieties of knotweed native to California. Douglas knotweed grows in Lassen Volcanic National Park at this elevation.

Shanda said, “It was spectacular with the fog which made the color pop!” The dusting of frost on the volcano adds to the photo’s drama.

Notice the golden-orange ground cover near the base of the trailhead. The source of that color remains unidentified. Though, Fall Color creds go to the first person to comment and identify it. 

Lassen Peak Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park (8,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Davis Knotweed

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (10/2/18) Martha Fletcher

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (10/2/18) Martha Fletcher

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (10/2/18) Martha Fletcher

One of the first National Scenic Byways designated by the Federal Highways Administration, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway travels 500 miles from Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park south to California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Along the route, travelers learn about the ancient natural forces that shaped a landscape of exquisite mountain lakes, soaring volcanic peaks and amazing geologic sites.

This is an area of truly breathtaking scenery, picturesque towns, world-class birding (bald eagles, migratory fowl), and extraordinary recreational experiences.

Martha Fletcher was traveling the route when she stopped to capture Patchy chartreuse, red, yellow and rust shrubs sprouting from volcanic soil along CA-89, approximately six miles south of where CA-299E intersects the byway.

Cascade range foliage was changing out of its summer green and into its autumn wear, as rain clouds reached across a turquoise and cobalt sky.

Pacific Dogwood, Norwegian Meadows, Trinity Center (9/30/18) Jeri Rangel

Elsewhere in the vast Shasta Cascade region, Trinity County color spotter Jeri Rangel found Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) carrying deep rosy pink leaves and buds loaded with bright red berries.

These berries are avian delicacies, though if harvested ahead of the birds, SFGate reports, can be germinated into new trees. 

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway – Patchy (10-50%) 

Trinity County – Patchy (10-50%)

Golden Currant Decorate Lassen Volcanic’s Hat Creek

Golden Currant, Hot Çreek, Lassen Volcanic NP (9/21/18) Shanda Ochs

Mountain Mule Ear and Arrowroot Balsam, Lassen Volcanic NP (9/21/18) Shanda Ochs

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) are living up to their name near Hat Creek where they’re at peak color, reports Shanda Ochs from Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The volcanic slopes of the national park are spread with Mountain Mule Ear (Wyethia mollis) and Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) “which have turned rusty orange to brown and are at peak.”

Shanda says that above 7,000′, there’s lots of autumn color, though mostly among shrubs and ground covers. Lassen Volcanic’s willows are about 20% turned, while cottonwood, alder and aspen are showing mostly green and lime with a few flashes of yellow. 
Lassen Volcanic National Park – Just Starting to Peak (0-100%) – The difficulty in classifying LVNP is that the state of fall color there depends upon which plant specie is assessed. Ground covers above 7,000′ are at peak. Shrubs vary from Patchy to Peak. Trees are Just Starting.

Meadows and Shrubs Are Where It’s At

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen VNP (9/8/18) Shanda Ochs

Rock Spiraea (creambush), Lassen Peak, Lassen VNP (9/8/18) Shanda Ochs

California’s best end-of-summer/beginning-of-autumn color is being found in high meadows and wherever colorful shrubs grow.

At Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeast California, Kings Creek Meadow at 7,500′ in elevation is in the process of transitioning from gold to brown, while at 8,200′ at the base of Lassen Peak, Rock Spiraea (Petrophytum caespitosum – creambush) is tinted with dusty rose blooms, LVNP color spotter Shanda Ochs reports. 

Peak (75-100%) – Lassen Volcanic National Park – Meadow grasses and shrubs above 7,500′ in elevation are at peak color, though deciduous trees are still green.

Burney Falls Bubbles with Fall Color

Burney Falls (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

President Teddy Roosevelt described Burney Falls as the “eighth wonder of the world,” and with good reason.

Pit River above Burney Falls (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

Burney Falls is constantly fed by an underground stream that flows at a rate of 379 million liters a day (imagine that in terms of soda bottles).

The water permeates through and flows over a 129-foot tall wall of rock that is covered with lush green ferns.

The pool below the falls (a waterfall is one drop, falls are many) has every imaginable blue in it (indigo, cerulean, cobalt, turquoise) and the wall in autumn is topped with vivid orange, yellow and lime colors.

Color spotter Clayton Peoples was there this past weekend to report the scene “sported great colors.”

He wrote, “At McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, the black oak trees are turning yellow, orange, and rusty red. There are some that have already reached peak color–for instance, those along Burney Creek just above where it plunges down the Falls. Elsewhere, though, the leaves are only beginning to change.

Manzanita Lake (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

“At Lassen Volcanic National Park, willows along Manzanita Lake range from Peak to Past Peak, and the grasses and other ground shrub have turned a nice golden hue. It’s unclear how long the color will last there, so I would recommend that folks GO NOW! before color disappears and winter weather settles in.”

The Shasta Cascade region is now a go-to destination to find great fall color, with Plumas County, Lassen Volcanic and Burney Falls at Peak.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


Fire in the Wind

Black Cottonwood and Lichen, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/8/17) Shanda Ochs

Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/7/17) Shanda Ochs

Pearly Everlasting (10/8/17) Shanda Ochs

There was fire in the wind yesterday. High winds blew wildfire to a tragic end across Sonoma and Napa Counties, while also stripping fiery leaves from their branches.

That happened in Lassen Volcanic National Park (northeast California) as reported by Shanda Ochs, a park guide, who says, “most of the color is at peak” or just Past Peak.

Of course, this is a national park, so there are quite a number of colorful native varieties to be enjoyed: knotweed (crimson), pearly everlastings (vanilla), Lichen (chartreuse), willows (brassy), alder (yellow), dogwood (rose), black cottonwood (gold) and quaking aspen (yellow to red).


Of those, the cottonwood and aspen are Near Peak, with one to three weeks of peak still to go.

The rest are Past Peak.

As for the wind, it only blew “turned” leaves from the trees. Trees whose leaves were in the process of turning still have their leaves, and because so much of California’s autumn has been staggered, the show will go on for weeks ahead.

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/8/17) Shanda Ochs

One of the prime areas to still see the show in the national park is at Manzanita Lake, where Lassen Peak reflections are seen. This is particularly nice at sunset, when the volcano is lit with alpenglow. Several of these shots were taken along the park road near Dersch Meadow, Hat Creek Meadow and Summit Lake, near 7000′.

When he saw peak color, seasoned color spotter Cory Poole had the presence of mind to snap a shot with his cell phone of a “Lovely little grove of aspens growing next to an old lava flow, at the intersection of CA-44 and CA-89, just south of Old Station.

Lassen Volcanic National Park (8,500′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! to Past Peak (You Missed It.)

Aspen, CA-44 and CA-89 (10/9/17) Cory Poole

Sometimes, Fall Color Crawls

Caterpillar, Lassen Volcanic NP (9/30/17) Shanda Ochs

Fall color doesn’t need to be hanging from a branch. It sometimes can be crawling on the ground, as Shanda Ochs, park guide at Lassen Volcanic National Park shows in her shot of a fuzzy fall time caterpillar.

Shanda shows what we often recommend, look down, not just up when searching for fall color.

Manzanita Lake, LVNP (9/30/17) Shanda Ochs

At Lassen Volcanic, willows surrounding Manzanita Lake (northwest entrance) are golden, carrying “hints of orange” and in the Near Peak range.

Rabbitbrush, Manzanita Lake, LVNP (9/30/17) Shanda Ochs

Rabbitbrush continue to show blooms, with Lassen Peak in the background, across the lake.

Blacks Cottonwood, LVNP (9/30/17) Shanda Ochs

Alder leaves, dented with black spot, still proudly shine newly golden as they lose their green.






Deer and Willows, Manzanita Lake, LVNP (9/30/17) Shanda Ochs


Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (5,900′) – Transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak (10 – 75%)